Banning Facebook

May 14th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

A principal’s call to end social media use among tweens provokes both praise and ire.

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The Responsibility Project

A middle school principal’s call to ban students from Facebook left some people wondering if social media use isn’t a matter of parental responsibility rather than the school’s.

Principal Anthony Orsini’s email to the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, urged parents “to take down their children’s online profiles on Facebook and elsewhere,” reported Jason Kessler at CNN.com. “There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be part of a social networking site!” Orsini wrote, saying that so-called tweens “are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause,” and that the threat from adult internet predators “is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites.”

Parents from as far away as Israel and Korea emailed Orsini to thank him, CNN reported, “for saying something.” But closer to home, parents on Babble.com were saying something else. “Get back to teaching,” wrote one, “and quit trying to usurp my authority.” Said another, “A school has no right to tell my child what he can and cannot do on his own time, in his own home.” With this kind of “intrusion,” one asked, “will you stand for the school telling you” what video games and music “your child is permitted to play at home?”